Four Powers of Purification

Prayer Wheel 

The purification practices we find in Buddhist teachings are similar to those in many other religions. The most essential factor that one requires is sincerity or honesty with oneself.

When we want to purify past negative karma, we must apply ourselves to engaging in all actions with the correct motivation and by using the following Four Powers of Purification:  

1. Power of the Object: One should practice remembering and thinking of all sentient beings one may have hurt. Traditionally, one remembers and generates compassion for all sentient beings and takes refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.  

2. Power of Regret: One realizes soberly, “what I did was wrong and negative.” One regrets having committed that action and feels this regret in the heart. This regret should not be senseless guilt, self-recrimination, or criticism, which are said to be useless emotional torture. What is intended here is to examine oneself and one's actions and to truly recognize that negative actions done in the past were very unwise. With the power regret, one feels deep remorse for one's past negative actions.

3. Power of Promise or Remedy: As a logical consequence of the above, one should promise not to repeat these negative actions and apply oneself diligently to doing virtuous actions in order to counteract the negative ones. It can be helpful to at least promise oneself to avoid a negative behavior for a specific period of time. Not being honest at this stage makes the practice useless or even harmful to oneself. Here one can also rely on and pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisttavas for the purification of the negative actions one regrets.  

4. Power of Practice: Basically any positive action with a good motivation can be used. Traditionally in Buddhism one can use practices such as prostrations (as a means to destroy pride), making offerings (to counteract greed), reading Buddhist texts (to counteract ignorance and negative thoughts), and acts of kindness to cultivate a heart of compassion, and so forth.  

Through applying these Four Powers of Purification and dedicating ourselves to the Buddha’s Path of Liberation, we can purify the karma of negative actions and completely transform our lives! 

Source: Used with permission from Neil Cohen at Naljor Prison Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067. ( http://www.naljorprisondharmaservice.org/whatweoffer.htm)

Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.